Held in Pasadena, Calif. in May, the second annual Police Fleet Expo-West attracted more than 250 fleet managers and technicians from various parts of the country.
Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez delivered the keynote address.
Chief Sanchez is no “armchair commando,” having made his way up through the ranks of law enforcement, earning both the medal of merit and medal of courage along the way. Thus, Chief Sanchez fully understands and appreciates the value of today’s police vehicle. In his opening remarks, Chief Sanchez expressed his concerns with police vehicle safety since vehicle collisions are the main cause of law enforcement injuries and fatalities in the United States. Chief Sanchez also voiced his concerns on the rising costs of the vehicles as well on the steadily increasing costs of fuel, maintenance and repairs.
Incidentally, one of the vehicles on display at the law enforcement expo was a 1968 Dodge Coronet police car, similar to those that patrolled the streets of Pasadena 44 years ago. It is occasionally called up from retirement to make an appearance at shows and parades, such as the annual Tournament of Roses (Rose Bowl) Parade held on New Year’s Day.
We saw previews of the new Chevrolet Caprice, Ford Sedan Police Interceptor and Utility Police Interceptor, which will be available later this year along with the Chevrolet Impala and Dodge Charger. These vehicles promise better performance than our current sedans and better fuel efficiency. The tried-and-true Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is nearing retirement and production will cease after August.
Police Interceptor Marketing Manager Lisa Teed spoke enthusiastically about Ford’s Next Generation Police Interceptor program. Realizing the vastly different needs of law enforcement, Ford will introduce two vehicles on basically the same Police Interceptor platform: the Sedan PI and the Utility PI.
While similar in appearance to the retail Taurus, Teed stressed the Sedan PI is a completely different vehicle than the retail vehicle, and it will not be available to the retail public. Exclusive police features include a column shifter, larger brakes, suspension modifications, higher-capacity electrical system and available ballistic protection for the front doors. All Wheel Drive (AWD) versions are standard, with Front Wheel Drive optional.
Both the Sedan PI and Utility PI are pursuit-certified and both vehicles have similar handling characteristics and share common components. This simplifies things for the fleet manager since the engines, drivetrains, brakes and tires are similar. Both vehicles use the 6-speed automatic transmission. Ford staffers stressed that both vehicles will have Ford CVPI V8 performance (or better) but with 6-cylinder fuel economy. Randy Freiberger, Ford’s Police Interceptor platform engineer, explained that a modifier’s guide for the hybrid version of the Ford Escape is now available on the Ford Fleet website.
Mary Jaye, Chrysler’s senior manager, government sales, introduced the redesigned Dodge Charger, which now has 15 percent more visibility, wider door openings, an improved column shifter and several other new features. The base engine is a new 292 hp, 3.6L Pentastar V6, offering 8–12 percent more fuel efficiency due to dual overhead camshafts and variable valve timing.
The optional 370 hp 5.7L HEMI® V8 also incorporates fuel saver technology, including a fuel cut-off while decelerating, and cutting out four cylinders during cruise. Fuel efficiency should be improved by 5 to 12 percent. For more acceleration, a 3.06 rear axle is now an option over the 2.65 standard rear axle. The computer can also be programmed to limit top speed to 129 mph; however, as with the optional axle ratio, these options need to be considered prior to ordering the vehicle. Once the computer is set for the lower top speed, it cannot be reset.
Eric Gierst went over some of the service issues and reminded the attendees that the 2011 law enforcement vehicle upfitter’s guide is available on their website. He also mentioned that Chrysler will no longer publish shop manuals in hard-copy format (books) or on CD/DVD. These and handheld scan tools are also considered to be “old technology” and all this information will now be Web-based.
Dana Hammer, head of the police vehicle program at Chevrolet, spoke about the new RWD Chevrolet Caprice. This will only be available as a police vehicle, and not a retail car. The Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV) is powered by a 6.0L V8 and a 6-speed automatic transmission. A 3.6L V6, developing 301 hp will be available next year. One unique option with the PPV is a dual, trunk-mounted battery system.
The 2011 Impala will pump an additional 30 hp from its 3.9L V6; however, for 2012, the Impala will get the 3.6L “high value” V6 from the Camaro and Cadillac CTS. This DOHC and VVT V6, making 287 hp, will be coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Bill DeRousse, retired Fleet Superintendant for the City of Everett, Wash. and his son, Lt. John DeRousse, gave an excellent presentation on how to make the fleet department more productive. DeRousse stressed the importance of the fleet manager doing homework on his or her department’s fleet statistics, along with the area they serve. DeRousse stressed good customer service. An individual can be a great fleet manager; however, if he or she delivers poor customer service, that person probably won’t last long.
One of the most important aspects of this conference was agency networking dialogues with these sessions broken up into large and federal agency fleet groups, medium fleets between 50 and 150 vehicles, and small fleets. The key topic this year was the rising cost of fuel, and several suggestions were kicked about, including reduction of idling time, increased utilization of bicycle patrols, limiting unnecessary speeds, tracking mileage, utilizing V6-powered patrol vehicles, smaller and/or hybrid vehicles for administrative functions, and limiting the use of take-home vehicles.
Also discussed was the increasing cost of upfitting vehicles and training the existing technicians to deal with the new technology. Many agencies are deliberately holding back and waiting to see what the other agencies are doing when the Crown Victoria ends production.
Decommissioning and disposal of retired vehicles was also discussed. Many jurisdictions have law pertaining to the sale of used police vehicles to the general public. Some areas require the vehicle to be repainted, an expensive proposition, considering the resale value of a used cruiser. One fleet manager orders vehicles painted a solid color and uses vinyl wrappings for graphics and to give the contrasting color. At the end of the service life, a heat gun is used to peel off the graphics and the car reverts back to a solid color vehicle, saving the cost of repainting.
Another concern for agencies that key their vehicles identically is changing the door and ignition locks after the vehicle is sold, in case someone obtained an unauthorized key. It was suggested the manufacturer offer an extra set of re-keyed tumblers as an option, and have the shop replace the lock cylinders when the vehicle is sold.
Paul Condran, Equipment Maintenance Manager for the City of Culver City (Calif.) Transportation Department gave some of his insights on his award-winning operation. Condran, who has been with Culver City for 25 years, credits his staff of 40 who man his operation on a 24/7 basis for keeping the city’s 650 pieces of equipment on the road in working order.
Condran is an advocate of the Pure-Power oil filter and uses their reusable filters in all of Culver City’s equipment. These filters can be disassembled and cleaned at every oil change and advantages are better oil filtration, higher oil pressure, extended oil drain periods, and it eliminates disposal problems of conventional filter packs. Condran stated the initial cost of the Pure-Power filter will be realized after six Preventative Maintenance operations. Using oil analysis, Condran has settled on 8,000-mile oil change intervals for his fleet.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is available in Southern California and with today’s rising fuel prices, the cost of CNG is about 65 percent of the cost of fossil fuels. Currently, Condran stated CNG runs about $0.91 per gallon, which includes the cost of operating the fueling station that compresses the gas. There is also grant money available and rebated, which help offset the cost. Condran utilized as many CNG-powered vehicles as practical.
Tire experts Norris “ T.J.” Tennent of Bridgestone-Firestone and Rick Wendt of Goodyear presented a class called “Pursuit Tires 101,” focusing on current police tire issues. Both agree that heat is the number one enemy of any tire and 20 percent under-inflation (just 7 psi) is enough to permanently damage a tire. A 10 percent under-inflation lowers the life of a tire by about 40 percent. Under-inflation causes heat build-up and overheating the rubber will shorten its life. Most vehicles will normally lose about 1 psi per month, and 1 psi per each 10 deg F drop in ambient temperature. It is strongly stressed to go by the vehicle manufacturer’s inflation recommendation and check pressures on a regular basis.
The controversial subject of repairing tires on marked patrol vehicles came up. Rick Wendt voiced Goodyear’s position: If the tire is inspected and repaired properly and only one repair is made with the recommended patch/plug, Goodyear stated the tire will not lose its speed rating. Firestone takes the position that any repair will lose its speed rating and that tire should not be driven in excess of 85 mph.
Additionally, prior to repairing any tire, it should be closely inspected for any damage, using a shop light, tire spreader, and closely looking and feeling for any damage. Running a tire at high speeds for long distances will show tell-tale damage, such as blue discoloration, or in extreme cases, shredding of the rubber near the rim. Both engineers agree that if a tire is repaired on an emergency vehicle, the best practice is to utilize it on a non-emergency vehicle.
The subject of inflating tires with nitrogen came up. Nitrogen does have some advantages as it is dry, and doesn’t contain moisture, which can damage the steel belts of a tire. Excessive tire pressure is another issue—even when seating the tire on the rim. Never exceed the maximum pressure listed on the exterior of the tire. Both engineers also agreed on adhering to the tire pressures recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
Mark Shattock, market manager of BG Products, gave a presentation on how he believes his company’s additive packages can assist in preventing unnecessary wear, lowering emissions, and increasing fuel economy. They offer several different types of fuel and lubrication additives that will keep your equipment running for longer intervals and require less maintenance. Shattock claimed they saved the Denver Police Department $1.2 million by extending their oil drain intervals up to 10,000 miles using their products.
In addition to formal educational sessions, the PFE-W also included two days of exhibits showing OEM and aftermarket manufacturers of virtually every product that goes in or on a police car. Attendees were able to see the latest in lightbars, radar, gun and computer mounts, software, tires, brakes, in-car cameras, prisoner partitions, push bumpers, stripe and graphic kits…and to talk with a variety of nationally recognized upfitters who can put it all together for them! John Bellah is the technical editor of Police Fleet Manager and a retired corporal with the California State University, Long Beach Police. He may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.